Today is the last day of three days off during which the Leafs flew back from California and hit the ice for practice on Sunday. And that’s the last time they have that many off days in a row. They have two more two-day breaks, but that is it.
They play at least three games in each week, and twice, they play four games in a week.
But wait, there’s more.
There are three more back-to-backs, including the last two games of the regular season. Two of the back-to-backs involve travel in between, and leading up to that last pair of games, they play six games in the last nine days. Good thing there’s so many former AHLers on the team who won’t even think that’s bad.
The only saving grace is that the last four games are at home. They play the Capitals, the Lightning, the Penguins and the Blue Jackets. No pressure. (We can hope those teams might be resting some top players.)
The Leafs do play the Florida Panthers twice more, the Bruins once, and the Flyers once, so that makes climbing the standings more possible against those teams. That’s a double edged blade though, it works for the other teams as well. There are two games against Tampa as well, and they can’t be counted out yet.
Now that the California road trip is done, there is only one away game outside the conference, and that’s in Nashville which isn’t actually in the west geographically.
There are some easier games. Easier on paper, anyway. The Leafs go to Buffalo twice, they host the Red Wings tomorrow and then play their last game at the Joe on April Fools day. They play the Hurricanes soon as well. That’s small consolation for a very tough final few weeks.
It’s a good thing this team is full of young, energetic guys.